Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for July 10, 2022

Newsline: Former diplomat to travel to Moscow to work on securing the release of detained Americans

Former diplomat and governor Bill Richardson is expected to travel to Russia in the coming weeks to discuss securing the release of Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan back to the United States, according to a source familiar. The planned trip to Moscow by the former New Mexico governor and diplomat, who privately works on behalf of families of hostages and detainees, comes amid US government efforts to get the two Americans released and as pressure mounts to bring them home quickly. Both Whelan and Griner are considered wrongfully detained by the US government, and both of their families have been working with the nonprofit Richardson Center. CNN has reached out to the State Department and the National Security Council for comment on Richardson’s planned trip, which was first reported by ABC News. Mickey Bergman, the executive director of the Richardson Center, told CNN, “we are unable to comment on this, at this time.” (https://edition.cnn.com/2022/07/10/politics/bill-richardson-trip-moscow-griner-whelan/index.html) News of the planned trip comes days after Griner, the WNBA star who has been detained in Russia since February after being arrested on drug smuggling charges, pleaded guilty in a court outside Moscow. Griner, who the Russians said had two cartridges with less than a gram of cannabis oil in each, told the court Thursday that she was packing in a hurry and the cartridges ended up in her bag accidentally, and she did not intend to break the law. She faces up to 10 years in prison.

Newsline: Top US diplomat to pay Abe condolence visit to Japan

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will pay a brief condolence visit to Japan next week following the assassination of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the State Department said Sunday. Blinken will travel to Tokyo on Monday to pay his respects to the former leader and meet with senior Japanese officials before returning to Washington from an Asian tour that he is now wrapping up. “Secretary Blinken will travel to Tokyo, Japan, to offer condolences to the Japanese people on the death of former Prime Minister Abe Shinzo and to meet with senior Japanese officials,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement. (https://www.journal-news.com/nation-world/top-us-diplomat-to-pay-abe-condolence-visit-to-japan/VBOV4LI2ZZHWHD62X2H4HC22WU/) Blinken is in Thailand on a pre-scheduled visit and had been in Indonesia on Friday attending a Group of 20 nations’ foreign ministers meeting in Bali when Abe was shot and killed. He will be the most senior U.S. official to visit Japan in the aftermath of Abe’s death. On Saturday in Bali, Blinken said Abe’s killing was a “tragedy” for the world and, like many other current and former U.S. officials, lauded the former prime minister for his vision.

Newsline: Ukrainian President dismisses controversial ambassador to Germany

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has dismissed his ambassador to Germany Andriy Melnyk, according to a decree published by the presidential chancellery. Melnyk became known for his repeated demands for more support from the German government, in the form of heavier weapons. Recently, Melnyk came under pressure for defending the Ukrainian nationalist leader Stepan Bandera, who led a group responsible for ethnic cleansing and the massacre of tens of thousands of Poles and Jews during World War II. Melnyk denied that Bandera was a mass murderer, saying he had been deliberately demonized by the Soviet Union, in comments during an interview. (https://www.rawstory.com/ukrainian-president-zelensky-dismisses-ambassador-to-germany-melnyk-2657639612/) The Israeli embassy accused Melnyk of “distorting historical facts, trivializing the Holocaust and insulting those who were murdered by Bandera and his people.” Ukraine’s ambassadors to Norway, the Czech Republic, Hungary and India were also dismissed, the decree said. It did not state why, or what the diplomats would do in the future.